Associate Instructor, Research Associate
Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology, University of Utah
About: Margaret R. Tarampi, Ph.D. Assoc. AIA is a Research Associate in the Center for Spatial Studies at University of California Santa Barbara and a postdoctoral researcher working with Mary Hegarty in the UCSB Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences. Margaret is also an Associate Instructor in the Department of Psychology at University of Utah. Previously, she was a Junior Research Fellow in the SAGE Center for the Study of the Mind at UCSB. She received her Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from University of Utah in 2013. Her interdisciplinary research investigates the cognitive and neural mechanisms that underlie space perception and spatial cognition in select populations including individuals with visual impairments and spatial experts such as dancers and architects. Other research interests include spatial thinking, perception and action, perspective taking, joint action and kinesthetic imagery.
Prior to her current research work, Margaret was already developing a unique background that was truly interdisciplinary. She graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a Bachelor of Architecture and minors in Psychology and Architectural History. Her interests in the effect of architecture on quality of life issues brought her to the American Institute of Architects in Washington DC and then to the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla CA.
She is an accomplished visual artist whose work is influenced by her psychological research. Her current work explores the assumptions and manipulations of the human perceptual system. Margaret’s art and design work has been displayed in exhibitions nationally and internationally.
Briefly tell us about your life outside of School/Work:
I view my life as interconnected. My psychological research work, art practice and architectural design inform each other. Thankfully I have let this interdisciplinary outlook permeate my life. I fill my time with new experiences that have the potential to inspire me, which is almost anything! But most weekends I attend art shows, dance performances and cultural events paired with delicious food and good company. I also enjoy traveling for pleasure and for work when I can partake in all of these activities in a new place.
What was the greatest barrier on your path to awesomeness, and what did you do about it?
The greatest barrier for me has been narrow thinking in that I saw the world through traditional constructs. For example, I thought I had to keep my different interests (architecture, art and psychology) separate for a long time. There were discrete disciplinary boundaries that I stayed in. My psychology research was separate from my architecture and both were separate from my art. I wasn’t aware of how much these assumptions influenced my behavior and thinking.
Over time I couldn’t fight it. I could see so many connections between the disciplines. I would learn about how our brains make sense of the world and that would lead to explorations through art. I would walk through a building and think about what cognitive processes were helping me to navigate. This was a major breakthrough for me which changed the arc of my career and life.
How did you know your path or decide your current path?
See answer #1 (See everything is interconnected!)
Who do you go to for support when you feel really vulnerable?
I have been blessed to have several significant and influential mentors in my career and life. These individuals along with many others serve as role models and catalysts in my development as a professional and as a human being. I hope that others have people in their lives that believe in them and support them to the extent that these mentors have shaped my life. Additionally, my spouse is my day-to-day sounding board for ideas and needed perspective. His insights are challenging but complementary.
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